Encyclopedia of Database Systems

2018 Edition
| Editors: Ling Liu, M. Tamer Özsu

Symbolic Representation

  • Hans HinterbergerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-8265-9_1382


Symbol graph; Symbolic graphic; Symbol plot


A written character or mark used to represent something; a letter, figure, or sign conventionally standing for some object, process, etc. (Oxford English Dictionary). Examples are the figures denoting the planets, signs of the zodiac, etc. in astronomy; the letters and other characters denoting elements, and so on. in chemistry, quantities, operations, etc. in mathematics, the faces of a crystal in crystallography.

In data visualization, the use of symbols allows the representation of multivariate data items, where each variate contributes to the symbol. The set of symbols may be displayed in an array and superimposed on coordinates to put extra information on a point plot or, if appropriate, on a geographical map.

When symbolic representations of information is used as a tool for thought or a form of communication, one distinguishes between abstract symbols where the graphical units are shapes formed by lines and areas...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Recommeded Reading

  1. 1.
    Bertin J. Semiology of graphics (trans: Berg WJ.). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press; 1983.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Easterby R, Zwaga H, editors. Information design, the design and evaluation of signs and printed material. London: Wiley; 1984.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Harris RL. Information graphics: a comprehensive illustrated reference. New York: Oxford University Press; 1999.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tufte ER. The visual display of quantitative information. Cheshire: Graphics Press; 1983.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hans Hinterberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Inst. of Scientific ComputingETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland